Ethnopharmacological relevance: Amaranthus caudatus is traditionally used to treat infections. Based on its traditional usage, we investigated the effect of A. caudatus on the bladder epithelial cells in the protection of E. coli infection. Materials and Methods: The direct antimicrobial effects of A. caudatus on uropathogenic bacteria were investigated using minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) assay. Bladder epithelial cell lines T24 and 5637 and uropathogenic E. coli strain #12 were used to investigate the effect of A. caudatus. Bacterial adhesion and invasion into bladder cells treated with A. caudatus was analyzed. Expression of uroplakin-1a (UPK1A), β1 integrin (ITGB1), caveolin-1 (CAV1) and the antimicrobial peptides human β defensin-2 (DEFB4A) and LL-37 (CAMP) was evaluated using RT-PCR. Results: No direct antibacterial effect on E. coli or any of the tested uropathogenic strains was observed by A. caudatus. However, we demonstrated reduced mRNA expression of uroplakin-1a and caveolin-1, but not β1 integrin after treatment of uroepithelial cells, mirrored by the decreased adhesion and invasion of E. coli. A. caudatus treatment did not induce increased gene expression of the antimicrobial peptides, LL-37 and human β-defensin-2. Conclusions: Our results showed that A. caudatus has a protective role on bladder epithelial cells against uropathogenic E. coli infection by decreasing the bacterial adhesion and invasion, thereby preventing infection.
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